Where to stay in Marrakech – a guide to the city’s districts
Whether you want to be at the center of the market culture, roused by the prayer bells and vendors’ cries each morning, or in a quiet, modern district with a French café on the corner serving coffee and croissants for breakfast, you can find it in Marrakech. You can choose between open green spaces, crowded, atmospheric streets – even a desert oasis. Then there’s the varied accommodation: will you opt for a traditional riad with a charming courtyard, or a luxury resort with a party atmosphere?
The medina, Marrakech’s old town, is intoxicating and addictive. With the constantly changing entertainment of Djemaa El-Fna and the network of souks, you won’t be bored for a second. This is the place to stay if you want to soak up the vibrant atmosphere of Marrakech, with all its sights, sounds and smells. Hotels are well-disguised, hidden amongst the warren of streets which make up the medina, but once inside, the traditional riads – guesthouses – open up onto private, calm courtyards. They vary from homely little places with simple, traditionally-decorated rooms to grand hotels, some even owned by royalty, complete with hammam spas and luxurious suites.
If you crave somewhere with a bit of peace and quiet, but still want to be within easy distance of the main square and the souks, try one of the elegant hotels on the edges of the expansive Agdal Gardens. Stretching from the southern end of the medina into the newest section of the city, it’s the best of both worlds. The beautiful gardens offer tranquil green space, with views of the Atlas Mountains, whilst nearby you’ll find the best of the international restaurants. The hotels here tend to be luxury, with some cheaper guesthouses at the medina end, close to the palaces.
The so-called Ville Nouvelle is not actually the newest district of town anymore, but it was when it was named, during the French Colonial period. It certainly offers a more modern cityscape than the medina, with easily navigable, wide boulevards and French café culture. There’s a range of shops, entertainment and restaurants, and a calmer pace of life, though taxis do still honk and career rather alarmingly through the streets. The southern end of Gueliz borders the north of medina, so it’s still very close to all the action. There are plenty of modern hotels to choose from, including boutique luxury, holiday resorts and budget guesthouses.
If you’re looking for a complete holiday getaway, then chic Palmeraie, the city’s northern district, is the place to stay. Nourished by the Tensift River, Palmeraie gets its name from its many verdant palm groves. This is the district of the luxury resort hotels, with all-inclusive services and plenty of opportunity for sunbathing by the pool. Unlike in the medina, the alcohol flows freely within the resorts of Palmeraie. The area is also home to several golf courses and is the place to come for camel rides through the shaded palm groves. It’s just a short taxi ride away from the medina.
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